When you think about a person in your mind you are normally able to visualise the way they look, and most importantly, the subtle traits in their character which make up the whole sum of a person.
In fiction we are told to do away with describing a person’s hair, eye colour, etc, simply because it’s no longer fashionable to go into such bland details. Fiction has over the years transformed reader’s tastes and we have learned that we don’t actually need to know the smaller descriptive details in order to engage and get to really know a character. This however, does not mean that you cannot use these details of description, but the more vivid and interesting it is, the more chance your character will be memorable in the reader’s mind.
Some of the simple ways you can make your characters more life-like and interesting is to find unusual ways in which to describe them. For instance; a person is not just made up of a torso, four limbs and a head. There are thousands of different physical visual differences to each individual.
If you are writing about an old man think about his features in closer depth. Pock marks, sagging jaw, heavily lidded eyes. Is there a way you can describe these with interest? Perhaps you can paint the character of an old man by showing how he… stoops over his cane allowing his back to form a smooth hill. Isn’t that more interesting to read than simply saying the old man had an arched back?
Showing a character to your reader by dropping in actions they perform is a trick most good writer’s use in their story-telling. Here is another example of this:
The waiter appeared tall and broad as he carried the tray to the table.
Swap the above sentence for..
A young girl at the table giggled as the waiter ducked beneath the lampshade, approaching the table with a carefully balanced tray on his muscular arm.
In the second example you are showing the reader how tall the waiter is through the eyes of a background character without actually saying it outright.
A well pictured character drawn on good description will stick in the reader’s mind long after she/he has finished your book.
More helpful tips on the subject of characterisation can be found in this downloadable booklet. There are many more examples, as in the one given above.
Creating vivid and dynamic characters is one of the most exciting, yet daunting tasks for many writers.
In this booklet, you will discover how to create exciting and memorable fictional characters by working through each important element that makes up an interesting individual.
The “do’s and don’ts” of beginner writers, how to avoid stereotyping, as well as learn the many tricks and tips used by best-selling authors. This booklet also provides ‘copyright free’ story prompts and writing exercises to develop your skills.